PHILADELPHIA, PA, October 10, 2019 – City Council unanimously adopted a resolution introduced Thursday calling for a fair contract so that commercial office cleaners and building service workers employed in the city’s highly profitable commercial real estate market can finally join the middle class.
The contract covering nearly 3,000 workers expires on Tuesday, October 15. Workers voted yesterday to authorize a strike if a contract agreement is not reached.
“If the hard-working men and women – most of them people of color – who clean and maintain the city’s commercial buildings are not able to join the middle class, then we have a serious problem in our community,” Councilwoman Cherelle Parker said. “It is their hard work that helps to keep our Center City economy, and frankly our entire City economy, going. My colleagues and I are proud to stand in solidarity today with these workers.”
The resolution, introduced by Councilwoman Parker and co-sponsored by Council members Maria Quinones Sanchez, Kenyatta Johnson and Curtis Jones, Jr., proclaims that workers “should not be asked to sacrifice their benefits and retirement security in order to create more profit for an industry that is undeniably booming.” It further resolves that the contract for cleaners and building service workers is “a crucial test of whether Center City’s development will truly benefit Philadelphians in the neighborhoods.”
“When we talk about eliminating poverty in our city, we should think about creating good jobs first and foremost,” said Councilman Jones. “Union jobs like those in building services for commercial buildings are the bedrock of the Philadelphia neighborhoods we represent. It is common to have many people depend on the paycheck and benefits of one union worker. When those jobs are threatened by corporate greed, it is all of our business.”
“We have an opportunity for several thousand Philadelphia cleaners and their families to either join the middle class or join the welfare rolls. With Center City’s commercial real estate market exploding with growth, there is no excuse to ask low-wage workers to sacrifice. If these large corporations are unwilling to share that prosperity with Philadelphia workers, then shame on them. This is about economic justice and fairness,” said Councilwoman Quinones Sanchez.
“The cleaners’ contract is a referendum on whether the city’s new affluence will remain concentrated in 15 square blocks or will eventually chip away at the poverty and inequality that plagues our city,” said Councilman Johnson. “We stand with workers in calling for a fair contract that respects their contributions to our city and lifts them out of poverty.”
Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker represents the 9th District, which includes East Mt. Airy, West Oak Lane, East Oak Lane, Lawncrest, Burholme, Olney, Oxford Circle and Logan. She is Chair of Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Service and Vice Chair of Council’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development.